Earwax and Health
When I was little, before I left for school every morning, my mom would check my ears. If there was any sign of earwax, back up stairs I went to wipe out any build up. Turns out, my mom was pretty smart to check because earwax can reveal a lot about your health.
Signs of earwax buildup include: Sudden or partial hearing loss, which is usually temporary; tinnitus, which is a ringing or buzzing in the ear; a feeling of fullness in the ear; and most commonly earaches.
Symptoms of Infection: Earwax buildup can lead to an infection. You should see your doctor if you experience any of the following: severe pain in your ear; pain in your ear that doesn’t go away; drainage from your ear; fever; coughing; persistent hearing loss; an odor coming from your ear; or dizziness.
How does earwax build up? According to Healthline: The ear canal produces a waxy oil called cerumen, which is more commonly known as earwax. This wax protects the ear from dust, foreign particles, and microorganisms. It also protects ear canal skin from irritation due to water. In normal circumstances, excess wax finds its way out of the canal and into the ear opening naturally, and then is washed away. When your glands make more earwax than necessary, it may get hard and block the ear. When you clean your ears, you can accidentally push the wax deeper, causing a blockage. Wax buildup is a common reason for temporary hearing loss.
What do different types of earwax mean?
Green or Yellow: “Normal earwax ranges from light orange to dark brown, but if it’s yellow, green, white, or black, that suggests an infection and you need to see a doctor,” says Benjamin Tweel, MD, an otolaryngologist at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
Dry or dark: If you notice your earwax feels thicker, drier, or darker than normal, that could be a sign of general aging. “As people get older, their earwax gets drier and flakier,” Dr. Tweel says.
Smelly Earwax: Your earwax should never have an odor; if it does, that signals an infection. “In my experience, it’s the patient who notices a smell, but it’s very possible other people might bring it up as well,” says Dr. Tweel.
Earwax that drips out: If you wake up with earwax on your pillow, or crusty buildup on your earlobe, those are signs of an ear infection or chronic ear disease.